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IDPWD; yet another day?

International Day Of People with Disability (IDPWD) is an important date in our diaries. But is it yet ANOTHER day we should pretend to care about?

I remember very vividly the first time I met a person with a vision impairment. My wife, Genevieve, was asked to run a theatre group for people with a vision impairment in Western Sydney. She’d been running the workshops for a few weeks and I was keen to pay a visit, mostly to be a good husband and show that I cared. But I kept putting it off. Up until then, I’d never met a blind person before and I discovered that I was really worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. What if I tried to shake their hand when I meet them and they don’t reciprocate the gesture and I end up just grabbing their hand? What if I say “See you later” when I leave? Am I ignorantly boasting about my optical ability?

I eventually worked up the courage/decided I needed to get over my own insecurities and went along to one of the theatre workshops. And of course I did stick my foot in it. The first guy I met I went straight up and said “Hi my name’s Henry. Nice to see you.” Ben, the lovely young man, turned to me with a serious look on his face and said, “well, I can’t see you.”

He let me hang there for about a second, before a big smile stretched across his face. He put a hand on my shoulder and said “it’s great to meet you too.”


Picture 1: Ben and his co-star, Brendan, smile to camera. Picture 2:  Ben and Brendan ride a tandem bicycle in the park with a camera crew filming them
Working with Ben years later on set of 'Work Mate'

How often do our own insecurities stop us from doing things, or even avoiding situations all together? That interaction was over a decade ago and since then, I’ve put my foot in it more times than I care to count. But engaging with a fellow human as a person first and with curiosity, we can quickly figure out how do we best connect.


International Day Of People with Disability is an important day around the world to recognise and celebrate people living with disability. As a community that is often judged quickly or looked down upon, it is a day to remind our society that collectively we can, and need to do better.


I asked three amazing colleagues who have disability what IDPWD means to them...


Profile photo of Jono, a caucasian man with glasses sitting in the cinema with popcorn
“One of the most powerful things in the world is taking the time to stop and listen to someone else’s story, and understand their perspective. The breadth and diversity of our human experience is incredible, and every time we make space to understand and appreciate those who are different to ourselves, the world gets a little bit better for everybody. ”

Jono

Motion Graphics Artist, Editor and VFX Artist



Profile photo of Tracey, a caucasian woman with blond hair and a vibrant red jacket
“When as a community we are often faced with challenges and hurdles, it's important to take a moment to reflect on our amazing disabled community and celebrate our strengths and our impact and to show the rest of the world, our pride in ourselves.”

Tracey

CEO and Executive Producer




Profile photo of Steph, a caucasian woman with brown hair and a floral black and lace shirt
“International Day of People with Disability is an opportunity for society to take notice of all of the incredible, creative, and important contributions that people with disability bring to the world. It's a chance for people with disability to receive the respect and recognition that so often alludes us as a community.”

Steph

Producer, Writer and Editor



Over the past 10+ years I’ve now had the absolute privilege of working alongside dozens and dozens of amazing people who also happen to have disability. It’s not a social good thing to do or a corporate tick box, but a hugely enriching part of life.


On this International Day Of People with Disability, I encourage you to not avoid people that may be different to you (regardless of ability, gender, culture, religion… whatever) but to engage with them as a human first. All the labels will sort themselves out later (if necessarily at all!)



Profile photo of Henry, a caucasian man with a cap and glasses, holding a film camera

Henry Smith

Henry is one of those rare creative types who can switch from creativity and ideation to logistics and screen business with the elegance of those fancy quick costume change acts. He is also the co-founder of Taste Creative.


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